|It is the basis of the English word
ore and traced to the old Indo-European root "Ais, (a lump
of) bronze or copper, later used to designate iron."(*18) There is no reason to insist that in such earlier
Vedic times, ayas meant iron, particularly since other metals are
not mentioned in the Rig Veda (except gold which is much more
commonly referred to than ayas). Moreover, the Atharva and Yajur
Vedas speak of different colors of metals along with ayas (such as red
and black), with the black being the likely candidate for iron.(*19) Hence
it is clear that ayas generally meant metal and not specifically iron, most
likely copper as in the Rig Veda it is compared to gold in its luster and
can be a synonym for gold.
Moreover, the inimical peoples in the Rig Veda, not only have horses,
they use ayas, even for making their cities, as do the Vedic people
18. Eric Partridge, A
SHORT ETYMOLOGICAL DICTIONARY OF MODERN ENGLISH ORIGINS, New York:
MacMillan, 1979, pg. 457.
19. For example Shukla Yajur Veda XVIII.13.
20. For example, Rig Veda II.20.8, IV.27.1, VII.95.1